Welcome To The Cradle Chronicles!

These are the crazy confessions of a first time mommy, and her adventures in world "mom-ination." If you are coming to this blogsite by way of People.com, chances are you’re already familiar with my writing style and “Mommy-centric” blog fodder. If not, I'll introduce myself with this brief summary: Suffice it to say, I had a baby in May. Now, I’m not suggesting this defines me entirely, but it certainly goes a long way toward explaining my daily trials and tribulations with spit-up and dirty diapers. Which brings me to… Welcome to The Cradle Chronicles! I hope you’ll continue coming back again and again for more of my motherhood anecdotes, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

--Photos in Welcome section courtesy of Mimosa Arts Photography--

September 20, 2013

Practice what you peach!

       The end of summer means the end of peaches… or at least the end of peaches that are juicy, and yummy, and actually in season. I try to enjoy as many ripe ones as possible throughout the dog days, and rarely turn down a dessert if those girls are present. But I always find myself scrambling to collect as many as I can get my hands on before the warm weather wanes. Because that’s when those lovely peaches become the bland, tasteless, mealy things they turn into as the chillier months approach. It is a disappointing and unwelcome transformation, to say the least. So, with that said, I’ve decided to write a somewhat bawdy ode to peaches for you. You know, just for the hell of it. And because I’m weird like that. If you can get through the “poetic” silliness, there’s a pretty awesome recipe on the other side of it for you!

 

A Figure of Peach

Oh peach, sweet peach

Your sticky summer skin is perfection on my lips

You sit daintily in my Bellini, just daring me to quench my thirst

You flaunt your brazen orange flesh on cobblers and pies all over town, and beg to be consumed

You shameless vixen, you!

My love for you knows no bounds, but alas…

Our fling, it pales in Autumn’s gaze

 

 

My “Practice What You Peach” Tartine

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients:

 

½ Loaf French baguette

2 Fresh Peaches (sliced)

3 Heaping tablespoons of Ricotta Fresca

2 Heaping tablespoons of Mascarpone Fresca

2 Sprigs of fresh mint (finely chopped)

2 Wedges of lemon (juiced)

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Teaspoon granulated sugar

Honey to taste (I like wild lavender honey!)

Directions:

 

~ Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, then cut into two sandwich-sized chunks

~ Melt butter in a saucepan on low-medium heat, then brush butter onto the doughy side of the baguette pieces. Coat well.

~ Heat indoor grill to medium. Toast baguette pieces, until lightly browned, butter side down. This should give you some pretty grill marks on your toasted bread!

~ In a separate bowl, mix the Ricotta Fresca and Mascarpone Fresca until well combined.

~ Spread onto the toasted sides of the bread

~ In a mixing bowl, combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped mint

~ Arrange on top of the Ricotta/Mascarpone mixture.

~ Drizzle honey to taste and enjoy!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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September 13, 2013

Gray-Children's Place 1

I’ve heard the following phrase quite a few times in my life: “Clothes don’t make the man.” This may be true if you’re a self-aware adult, who doesn’t have raging hormones and a four day-old driving permit. However, the 16-year old me would have staunchly argued that clothes do, in fact, make (or break) the awkward teenager. I recently wrote a post about getting in the “back to school” spirit, and I reminisced about those wacky, wicked days of cramming for tests and doodling the words “I luv J.N” on my binder. (Don’t even try to figure the initials out. You’d have had to be there…) In my humble opinion, going back to school should be done in style, which includes appropriately dressing the part. Think of it this way: if Emilio Estevez hadn’t worn that letterman jacket in The Breakfast Club, how would we have known he was supposed to be the jock? Our apparel makes a statement to those around us; it can define our originality… Or lack thereof. Admittedly, I may have fancied myself a bit more of a trendsetter than I should have way back when. Lord knows I was definitely more fashion-curious than fashion-conscious. Nonetheless, my clothing helped me try characters on for size, during a crucial phase of figuring myself out and learning my own boundaries. With that in mind, I thought I’d go ahead and take my “back to school” wardrobe discussion another step further for you this week. For a little preemptive background, here’s an excerpt from the previous blog, which I think is worth repeating:

        

         ” When I was a child, the phrase “back to school” elicited a mixture of both fear and delight in me. What fantastic summer vacation stories would my friends return with? Would they think I was a total dork because I didn’t have any? Would I still (embarrassingly) be the shortest person in my class? Would my new teachers be nice, or would they plot my demise like the principal in Ferris Bueller? Would I be suffering through hours of homework each week, eclipsing my ability to watch Melrose Place? Would any boys like me this year? (And would I know it, even if they did?) Would I break out in inevitable and mortifying stress-acne before tests? And the biggest question of all… drumroll, please… what should I wear on my first day back to class?! Mind you, that particular assignment required hours of closet perusal, multiple department store outings, a box of tissue to wipe away any melodramatic tears, and one VERY patient mother. I was convinced the right outfit could earn me a prominent place at the popular kids table. Alternately, the wrong one could indefinitely fortify my position as the last pick in every gym class dodgeball game until the end of time. Heaven forbid! I had such a preoccupation with what statement my clothes were or weren’t making, that I kept journals of my favorite get-ups. Sometimes I was even ambitious enough to take Polaroids, for better documentation. God bless the neurotic and overzealous younger me! I was enthralled with being fashion-forward, while simultaneously stuck in the small-minded mentality that jumping on the conservative bandwagon was equivalent to fitting in. I was certain that expressing myself through my unique sense of style would directly, not to mention negatively, affect my social status. That is, of course, if I’d actually had a bona fide social status to begin with, which I didn’t. And, despite wearing exactly the same conventional (aka banal and indistinguishable) threads everyone else was donning, I still roamed the middle school corridors feeling as if I stuck out like a sore thumb. Meanwhile, my artistic spirit was dissolving into that sterile, over-lit, hall monitor-supervised background until it was non-existent. It was experiencing a slow, agonizing death by self-imposed conformity. Shallow, perhaps, but I didn’t have bills and a mortgage to fret over in those days, so I think I’ll let that slide.”

Final Children's Place

This is, I suppose, why I get such a thrill out of dressing my daughter in fun, snazzy, trendy garments, even when it’s only to go to the grocery store. Until she’s old enough to pick out her own school clothes, I’m going to continue having a field day! So it is with the aforementioned enthusiasm that I gratefully accepted a back-to-school shopping spree to The Children’s Place. The gift may have been on Gray’s behalf, but let’s be honest, I enjoyed it a heck of a lot more than she did! Frolicking through aisles of colorful kid’s clothes and indulging in some lively retail therapy? Are you kidding? Can you say, “ thoroughly blessed” and “appreciative?!”  Thanks to The Children’s Place, Gray and I are officially in the “back to school” spirit. We picked out some really fantastic basic pieces that Gray can wear well into next year (check them out in the photos above!). And, when I found myself salivating over a really fabulous sequined beret, I got that for her too! I don’t know if Gray will eventually be the class president, head of the debate club, spelling bee champion, or volleyball captain. For all I know, maybe she’ll walk an entirely different path. But if I have anything to say about it, she’ll be well dressed doing whatever it is she chooses!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Katena Gorder says:

    I too love Children’s Place. I find clothes for my 3 girls there all the time. Cute, Stylish and the price is right too! Gray is, of course, as adorable as ever!

September 6, 2013
Plaid Kilt From Burberry

Plaid Burberry Kilt from Consignment Mama!

 

As much as I’d love to splurge on my daughter until she’s sporting every cute outfit and accessory this side of the Mason-Dixon line, I can’t support a habit that involves dropping thousands of dollars on designer apparel for a one-year old. I don’t know too many moms who can! The fact is, I think Gray looks adorable wearing nothing but an Elmo diaper, so who needs the closet full of infant Jimmy Choo booties and Versace bloomers? Moreover, it isn’t practical to put my daughter in expensive outfits that will inevitably wind up plastered with blue paint or sporting hardened Cheerios by the end of the day. All of that said, I’m still driven to satisfy my inner runway diva from time to time, which causes me to drool over racks of precious high-end threads at Nordstrom and expensive baby boutiques, even though I know my budget-conscious wallet won’t spring for them. Thankfully, I’ve found a way to indulge my style-conscious affinities without getting myself in huge trouble… consignment! And we’re not talking any random consignment here; we’re talking designer consignment. It’s retail therapy that doesn’t break the bank. Eureka!

I acknowledge that I may be late to this party. Perhaps you’ve been shopping consignment for years already, and you can teach me the ropes! If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite online stores, so I can check them out (see my contest below to win a $50 gift certificate, doing just that!). I’ve found a few physical stores I can visit and peruse as well, but they seem to be few and far between. Ironically, when I started appreciating the value of consignment shopping, I also discovered that my friend, Mandy, had just opened her own online boutique, Consignment Mama. It was serendipitous. I’ve become a frequent patron, stopping by her site weekly to view the new listings. As with all consignment sites (or non-consignment sites, for that matter), sometimes I don’t find anything I’m immediately over the moon about. Other times, I can’t click the “purchase” button quickly enough. For example, I scored an unbelievable mini Burberry plaid skirt (see the photo above), and Ralph Lauren dress a few weeks ago… and neither cost a fortune! Not to mention, it’s neat to support a friend’s home-based business while I’m at it.

 

A Peek Inside a Home-based Business!

Sneak Peek of a Home-based Business!

 

I recently asked Mandy how she’d gotten into consignment in the first place. “I have a great friend who introduced me to local consignment sales not too long ago,” she told me, “and after selling my own kids’ clothing at a couple of them, I was hooked. When I’d find a good deal on clothing for my boys, my heart would race.  It probably sounds cheesy, and like I have no life, but there’s a high that I get when I find a treasure–something I know I would pay more for elsewhere! I also love the idea of passing along gently loved clothing from one mom to the next. “ I thoroughly respect the way she views it. After all, why not spread the fashion love a little? And, as Mandy so succinctly phrased it, “Consigning online offers parents a quick and easy way to keep up with style trends, at a lower price.***” And I’m all about that.

Mandy & Her Beautiful Family!

Consignment Mama Owner, Mandy, and Her Beautiful Family!

 

Mandy’s store carries some non-designer brands as well, which are definitely worth taking a look at. As far as I’m concerned, clothing doesn’t need to be a designer label to look like one. Mandy has two boys, who are two years apart, so she has been able to see which labels hold up, and which ones don’t. In her words, “They don’t have to be fancy to be great quality– Crewcuts, Gymboree, and Gap will generally last you through two rounds of kids. Then you have the designer labels, which take it a step further. That being said, I also love shopping basics brands. When my guys were in preschool, there was no way I was going to put them in something that could risk getting ripped, grass-stained, or covered in shaving cream (!). I knew the clothes would get beat up. That’s part of the history behind my site’s bargain basement; there are pants in the basement that have small grass stains but, if you know your child is going to wear them out, why not pay $.50 or $1 for pants rather than $5-$10?” I couldn’t agree more. While I may not have rough and tumble boys, Gray seems to be into everything these days. I’m lucky if we can get through an afternoon without her sitting in a dirt pile, splashing in the doggie bowl, and wiping streaks of strawberry across her white tank top. We’re a messy bunch, so the idea of paying next to nothing for a pair of pants, that will promptly get ruined anyway, seems more than fair!

Linen Coat from Consignment Mama

Linen Coat from Consignment Mama!

I guess my point in all of this is the following: I know some folks assume that, by nature of the industry I’m in, I must drop loads of cash on my kid. While there are definitely some fun perks about being in the public eye, I’m not in a position to throw money around. Actually, I haven’t even bought the majority of Gray’s clothing; it has been gifted by her generous grandmothers and our fashion-forward friends! When I purchase items, it’s generally because she is in desperate need of new socks, or because I know I’m getting one hell of a deal… hence, my new love of consignment. If you haven’t considered that route for your own kids yet, I encourage you to do so! Mandy posts new items weekly on Consignment Mama, so definitely take a few minutes to look at her site. When you do, please be sure to tell her I sent you- she rocks! In fact, she has generously offered a 20% discount for my blog readers for the next two weeks (deadline is September 20, 2013), so shop away to your heart’s content! The official coupon code is: CRADLECHRONICLES

As if that weren’t enough, Mandy is letting me host a contest for one lucky winner, by giving away a $50 gift certificate to her store! How can you pass that up? All you have to do is email me a quick note with the subject line “Consignment.” Tell me what your favorite online boutique is (preferably consignment-related), and you’ll be entered to win! I will be choosing a winner at random, by the end of the month, and will contact the winner via email. One entry per person, please!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers (not to mention, happy shopping!),

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

 

To check out Mandy’s Consignment Mama site, here’s her info:

Website: http://www.consignmentmama.com/

Twitter: twitter.com/consignmentmama

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConsignmentMama.

***As a side note, Consignment Mama does not accept consignment items from outside sources.

 

 

August 30, 2013

Gray gets ready for her school day!

             When I was a child, the phrase “back to school” elicited a mixture of both fear and delight in me. What fantastic summer vacation stories would my friends return with? Would they think I was a total dork because I didn’t have any? Would I still (embarrassingly) be the shortest person in my class? Would my new teachers be nice, or would they plot my demise like the principal in Ferris Bueller? Would I be suffering through hours of homework each week, eclipsing my ability to watch Melrose Place? Would any boys like me this year? (And would I know it, even if they did?) Would I break out in inevitable and mortifying stress-acne before tests? And the biggest question of all… drumroll, please… what should I wear on my first day back to class?! Mind you, that particular assignment required hours of closet perusal, multiple department store outings, a box of tissue to wipe away any melodramatic tears, and one VERY patient mother.

 Jenna School Photo-11 yrs. 1988

I was convinced the right outfit could earn me a prominent place at the popular kids table. Alternately, the wrong one could indefinitely fortify my position as the last pick in every gym class dodgeball game until the end of time. Heaven forbid! I had such a preoccupation with what statement my clothes were or weren’t making, that I kept journals of my favorite get-ups. Sometimes I was even ambitious enough to take Polaroids, for better documentation. God bless the neurotic and overzealous younger me! I was enthralled with being fashion-forward, while simultaneously stuck in the mentality that jumping on the small-town, conservative bandwagon was equivalent to fitting in. I was certain that expressing myself through my unique sense of style would directly, not to mention negatively, affect my social status. That is, of course, if I’d actually had a bona fide social status to begin with. Which I didn’t. And, despite wearing exactly the same conventional (aka indistinguishable) threads everyone else was donning, I still roamed the middle school corridors feeling as if I stuck out like a sore thumb. Meanwhile, my artistic spirit was dissolving into that sterile, over-lit, hall monitor-supervised background until it was non-existent. It was experiencing a slow, agonizing death by self-imposed conformity. Shallow, perhaps, but I didn’t have bills and a mortgage to fret over in those days, so I think I’ll let that slide.

Although I’ve been out of school for several decades (ouch, that hurts to say!), the end of summer still gives way to that “back to school” thrill. It reminds me of the good old days: scouring the preparatory summer reading list, stocking up on every protractor-calculator-ruler-related gadget on the market, and searching for the ideal caddy to house my ever-growing eraser collection. I recall the arduous hunt for a (nearly-impossible-to-find) Trapper Keeper that wasn’t plastered with photos of New Kids On The Block; I may have been the only adolescent girl in America who couldn’t fathom wanting to make out with one of those guys. And then there was the daunting task of locating a backpack that articulated just the right thing about me: “I’m cool and confident enough for the ‘It Crowd,’ just awkward enough to be endorsed by all of my other peers, and serious enough to be respected by teachers everywhere. Pretty please accept me, people!”

I realize my daughter is only 15 months old, so the term “back to school” doesn’t carry quite as much weight at this point and time. That said, prepping for her fall daycare program has brought a flood of memories to the surface. It takes me back to passing notes in Social Studies, giggling uncontrollably during study hall, skimming Cliff’s Notes for English Lit, and boycotting frog dissection in biology. (Which, in retrospect, was an early demonstration of my love for animal rescue.) I find I miss the sound of lockers slamming. You know the ones I mean– the old slabs of metal stuffed with crumpled papers, hair scrunchies, and half-chewed pen caps, then festooned with magazine clippings of teen heartthrobs such as Luke Perry and Keanu Reeves. (Thankfully, my friends were considerate enough to hide the Joey Lawrence photos when I came around.)  I can recall the wild stampede as the morning bell rang and students shuffled off to homeroom, or ditched to the local Dunkin’ Donuts. I recollect my gruesome discovery of stale gum on the underbelly of my desk, and my palpable desperation as I counted down to our daily recess or lunch. The flashbacks are so vivid I can almost feel the chalk on my fingers and taste the coagulated cafeteria Jell-O… Which, on second thought, I could have gone without remembering.

 

But back to how this pertains to parenting.

 

In a sense, Gray has already embarked upon her learning journey, even though she’s only attending daycare for two days each week. She doesn’t need to write her own name in cursive, or be able to add apples and oranges, in order to be considered a student in my book. At the moment, she just happens to be a student of social skills and learning to eat Cheerios with an Elmo spoon. Now, if you’re anything like me, the concept of “daycare” dredges up some strange visual illustrations. I never went to any sort of preschool or Montessori when I was younger, so my thoughts initially ran amuck. Before enrolling her, I imagined vaguely uncivilized scenes: twenty-something year-old babysitters with little (or no) teaching experience, chasing after hoards of screaming, drooling children, in a padded room where unstructured chaos ensued until work-weary and coffee-dependent parents could find the time to pick them up in between meetings. Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth, at least in Gray’s case, and I’m almost ashamed to have assumed such an awful scenario in the first place. Gray’s daycare is truly an accredited institution, with highly qualified teachers who are loving and attentive. In other words, it is exactly what school should be. The kids are essentially being treated to well-supervised educational play, meant to motivate them while still respecting age-appropriate boundaries. By that, I mean they aren’t forcing them to conduct lab experiments or solve algebraic formulas at age one :).  It’s gentle preparation for their future lessons, both in and out of the classroom, and I’m thoroughly impressed by it. Not to mention, Gray comes home with some freakin’ adorable paintings we can post on our refrigerator! Her school really stresses music and creativity, which couldn’t make my husband and I happier. She has fantastic communication opportunities with fellow toddlers, and she is constantly being challenged, which she thrives on. (This is my polite way of saying our daughter is a little social butterfly who craves continual stimulation and entertainment. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)  If I’m being honest, having her at daycare two days a week also allows me to get a little work done. I miss her terribly when she’s gone, and that’s putting it mildly. I’m like a turtle without its shell. (What the heck am I going to do when she goes off to college, if the separation is this tough already?!) Still, I know it’s good for me to have some time to catch up. Moreover, Gray loves it, so I’m all for encouraging her independence. One day soon, I will be waving goodbye (and openly weeping, I’m sure) as Gray climbs onto the bus for her first day of Kindergarten, just as my mother did. I’m sure that’s when the real adventure will begin. But I’m in no rush to skip over these simpler days. There will be plenty of time for debate club, prom, yearbook committee, homework, and–God forbid–detention. For now, I’m content with our slow and steady pace.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, & Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

 

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen! Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

PPS. I love hearing from you, so I’ll pose this question: What’s the thing you miss most about your former school days??

Some fun old photos for you to peruse…

My Mom & I on my first day of Kindergarten!

My First Day of Kindergarten

Waving Goodbye On The Bus

Headed To School With My Siblings

Jenna schoolphoto-9 yrs- 1986

August 23, 2013

           Looking at the Rain with Bruiser  

              At one-year old, Gray already holds her canine siblings very dear, which truly warms my heart through and through. One of these days, I need to pen a longer post about how much I adore watching my daughter interact with our dogs; they share a special bond that sometimes surprises me with its intensity, and I’ve got stories galore to back that up. For now, however, we’ll focus on a brief (but memorable), chance powwow that occurred not too long ago. The picture was actually one I snapped on my iPhone, because I knew the moment wouldn’t last long enough for me to grab my better camera. With kids and dogs, the candid shots are often fleeting, and trying to get everyone to sit still for longer than 30 seconds is virtually impossible. I cherish the fact that I was able to catch this simple and peaceful exchange.

I should preface this with the fact that my pups spend a significant amount of time outdoors. Though they are definitely indoor dogs (they sleep in our bed, if that gives you any idea…), they love their daily front porch sunbathing sessions. Spring and summer seem to be their favorite seasons, offering ample opportunity to relax (read: be lazy) all day and catch some rays. Consequently, they get a little depressed when it rains for days on end, which happened to be the case a few weeks ago here at our Nashville home. I suspect everyone was beginning to come down with a serious case of cabin fever (myself included), and I wasn’t sure what kind of cure I could provide. Every time I ventured within a few feet of our front door, the dogs would thunder toward it, in anticipation of going out. Then they would regard the deep puddles and heavy deluge, abruptly stop in their tracks, and retreat. The moping was getting downright pitiful! Finally, I decided to open the front door for a bit, and let some fresh air in. Cue the really sweet snapshot of a girl and her best buddy, gazing out at the soggy day!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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August 16, 2013

 

I have a dear friend who just underwent a double mastectomy, courtesy of that evil rat bastard, cancer… And I can’t stop thinking about it; it is aggressively impacting my daily thoughts. Since she first told me about her diagnosis and impending surgery, I’ve run the emotional gamut. It’s such a strange internal conflict when you endeavor to maintain a positive outlook, while also worrying about someone’s wellbeing. Empathy has me encountering more highs and lows than a see saw, and I imagine that’s paltry in comparison to what she’s experiencing. My heart goes out to her with a very fierce and unwavering love. My heart also goes out to her husband and young children, who will spend the next few weeks witnessing the woman they love most in this world, go through one of the most intensely difficult challenges of her life. Sometimes being the observer of someone’s physical and emotional agony is almost as painful as personally experiencing it.

 

It can be a heavy weight to carry.

 

This post is in no way meant to be about me. That said, I only have my personal experiences and feelings to draw from, so I thought I should acknowledge that I’ve found myself contemplating my own lack of invincibility in the face of this whole ordeal. I suppose that’s only human. Watching yet another friend I love (there have been far too many in recent years) go through the cancer struggle has dredged up a wealth of insecurity and self-reflection. Forfeiting parts of your anatomy, especially those as sacred and intimate as one’s breasts, is a tough concept to reconcile. I’m having trouble getting past it, even though it isn’t my body being put through the wringer. It has hit me quite profoundly. Rest assured, my girlfriend will kick cancer’s ass… she’s just too strong and stubborn not to. Not to mention, her ability to bravely laugh in the face of fear is unparalleled. Cancer is getting a run for his money, I promise you that! But I have found myself weeping for the loss of her breasts, as odd as that may sound. I am mourning them along with her, while simultaneously honoring my own in a way I never had before. I am suddenly realizing just how attached I am to the pair of smallish boobs I’d previously deemed insignificant. I spent my twenties trying to enhance them with stuffing-filled, underwire bras, and contemplating plastic surgery to make them look more voluptuous. Now they are a source of pride, because they represent the beautiful bond I have with my child. The fact is, our breasts breathe a life-giving force into our babies. Our milk not only provides them with nutrition, illness-combatting antibodies, and comfort, it inextricably links us to the tiny human we have given birth to. Breastfeeding has built an unbreakable and irreplaceable emotional connection between my daughter and I, and I am eternally grateful to the boobs formerly known as “a source of frustration.” I know that it is what my breasts were meant for in this life. To have those removed must be a spiritually painful process. I can only imagine how violated, and exceedingly vulnerable, it must make one feel. I am deeply humbled by those of you who have gone through it.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of survivors I know.  From thyroid, to ovarian, and everything in between, it seems cancer wants to terrorize us and steal our womanhood. But we won’t let it. There are far too many women who have to combat it in this lifetime, and I am filled with respect and love for every one of them. They are courageous warriors, whether they have won the battle or lost it. So I’ll go ahead and say what probably goes without saying…

 

Cancer sucks.

 

I wish you, and the ones you love, a long and cancer-free life. But since the disease doesn’t discriminate, please take precautionary measures by having frequent breast exams. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any abnormal lumps, whether on your breasts or elsewhere. Thankfully, my friend caught her cancer in the very early stages because she was so diligent!  Until we can wipe the ‘’big C’’ out altogether, we need to encourage early discovery and intervention!  Knowledge is power.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

 

  • Kathy says:

    Great post Jenna. I work in a mammogram department. Have recently
    been seeing quite a few women showing up with advanced cancers
    who have not had yearly mammograms or seen a doctor in years even
    though they had found a mass. Now it is too late for them. And it wasn’t
    because they didn’t have insurance! I just don’t know why anyone would
    wait until it’s too late. If you take the precautionary steps it can save your life when breast cancer is in the early stages. Best of luck to your friend.

August 9, 2013
Teacher Appreciation Project

Vintage spoon with “Thanks for helping me grow” engraved on it, accompanied by a fun little cactus!

             

 

            When I was a little girl, my mom always made a special point to let my teachers know just how much they were respected and appreciated. She made every parent-teacher conference, assisted in the classroom whenever chaperones were needed, and took the time to create thoughtful end-of-the-year trinkets to gift each of my educators with. As a result, I abide by the same set of standards. Teachers have an impact on the adults we ultimately become. They don’t just help us to learn… they help us to grow. And that deserves never-ending recognition! As my daughter begins her schooling journey, though we are only in the daycare stages at this time, I am doing my best to show my gratitude in every way possible.  While Gray may not be solving algebraic formulas, or conducting lab experiments, there’s still a significant amount of time and effort being put into her learning experience.  Social and verbal skills require insightful instruction too! While my husband and I will impart many of Gray’s life lessons at home, quite a few of them are being taught in her classroom as well.

Gray is graduating from the infant room into the toddler room this month, which also means she is transitioning to a different teacher. I suppose that is what inspired me to write this week’s blog. In honor of the wonderful, attentive, sensitive, perceptive job her current teacher has done to help her develop, I put together a small token of my thanks (you can check it out in the photo above).  I hope it inspires you to do something for your child’s teacher too… even if it’s just a simple note!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

August 2, 2013

Gray's Special Birthday Outfit!

           In the past, I’ve generally reserved my “Mommy Musings” posts for interviews with fellow celebrity moms… you know, moms that have starred in our guilty pleasure TV shows from the 90’s, or graced the cover of the magazines we scour when we visit our hair stylist. But the term “celebrity” should honestly be applied to every mom out there who’s simultaneously juggling a career and her family-life. I know plenty of women who deserve that title more than the models and actresses on my radar. Perhaps the fame-factor isn’t applicable, but the estimable distinction is there nonetheless. After all, the term “celebrity” is synonymous with the words “VIP” and “superstar,” right? And Lord knows it doesn’t take an actor to embody those designations. So this week I’m highlighting a stay-at-home mom who is undoubtedly a celebrity in my book… my dear friend, Katie.

This past May, when my daughter had her first birthday party, Katie brought her children over to share in the celebratory festivities with us. Later in the evening, when Gray opened her packages, I was floored to see the stunning outfit Katie and her children had gifted Gray. I was even more floored when it dawned on me that Katie had made the two-piece outfit herself! Now, if you’ve read this blog in the past, you’re most likely aware of my huge affinity for homemade goods. There’s just nothing that expresses love quite like something handcrafted. Whether baked, drawn, molded, or glued, I’m a sucker for anything unique and heartfelt. In this case, it was clear that every stitch had been sewn with love and patience, every fabric chosen with care and attention to detail. I was immediately enamored. Moreover, I couldn’t stop trying to conjure up ways to help Katie get her designs out to the masses, as they are just too cute to keep quiet!

As many of you are stay-at-home moms who passionately pursue your hobbies or careers while changing diapers and cleaning pureed carrots off your floors, I thought you’d appreciate an interview from a fellow creative spirit… enjoy!

 

 

An Interview with Katiedid Creations Owner, Katie Palmissano:

 Katie & Her Kids

JENNA:   What prompted you to begin sewing, and to turn it into a home-based business?

 

KATIE: I have always been creative.  As a child, I can remember countless hours spent coloring, cutting, pasting, playing instruments, etc.  As I grew into an adult, I sadly lost a lot of that desire and my outlet was mainly through my career, doing marketing for a record label.  My first child, a son, was born and I became a stay-at-home mom. Memories of my own mom sewing clothes for me came flooding back (I remember an especially adorable bunny costume complete with pink yarn tail that I adored. See below for a photo!).  I started feeling a desire to be able to create something through sewing but it wasn’t until my second child, a daughter, was born that I started getting serious about it.  Perhaps it was a calling from all things pink and “ruffly,” but I knew now was the time.  I found a pattern that I loved, and my mother-in-law walked me through my first attempt at making a dress, and I just kept making them.  I started to show friends the reversible dress and ruffled diaper cover and I received such wonderful feedback that I decided to try my hand at selling them. Katiedid Creations was born!

Little Katie P

JENNA: How do you balance finding the time to be creative while simultaneously juggling your two children?

KATIE: Finding time with two busy kids is certainly not easy.  I take advantage of the time when they take long naps, and in the evenings after they are in bed.  After I complete an outfit, I take a few days off from sewing to have some quality time in the evenings with my husband or catch up on other housework.

JENNA:  What inspires your creative process?

KATIE: My initial and main inspiration was seeing my daughter in something that I had created for her.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment, as well as pride, that I once again had an outlet and hobby that was just for me.  Even though I know I make a huge contribution to the household being a stay-at-home mom, I also enjoy that I can now contribute financially (even if it’s just some extra money for going out for ice cream!).  As a mom, it’s so easy to have my life revolve solely around my children and their interests.  Although I’m making children’s clothing, it’s all about what I want to create!  I love the fabric selection process and matching up complimentary patterns and colors.  It’s highly gratifying to know that a baby girl was wearing one of my creations at her first birthday party or that a toddler will be wearing a Katiedid Creation when she takes her first trip to Walt Disney World.

Katiedid Creations~ Yellow Chevron

JENNA:  What advice would you have for a fellow mom out there, who dreams of beginning a business at home?

KATIE: My advice would be to make sure it is something that you truly want to spend your time on.  Free time is a precious commodity, so use it wisely!  My husband also supported my endeavor right off the bat, which was also encouraging.  Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed, and if it starts feeling like a chore, stop!

JENNA:   Where can folks buy your pieces?

KATIE: The best place to find me and see more photos of my Creations is on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/KatiedidCreationsClothing.  I can also be contacted at KatiedidCreationsClothing@gmail.com

The reversible dress and ruffled diaper cover is available from size newborn up to 18-24 months for $38.  The ruffled diaper cover alone is available for $20 (perfect for newborn photo shoots or to go underneath a favorite dress). Very soon I will be offering larger toddler and girls sizes, as well as new designs.  Fabric choices and ready-to-ship dresses for sale are available on the Facebook page but I can also customize a dress to suit any occasion (sports teams, favorite characters, colors, animals, etc).

Katiedid Creations~ Green Polka Dots

Thanks so much to Katie for the interview and fabulous photos!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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July 26, 2013

Gray & I

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ~Rudyard Kipling

 

                Words.  We eat, sleep, and breathe them. According to a few random statistics I found online, the average person says approximately 16,000 of them a day. Some folks, like a certain former speed-talking best friend I played in the 90’s, are probably spitting out significantly more than that. No surprise here, I’ve been known to verbalize my share of them on a personal level too! At times, I’ve certainly been guilty of saying too much, and every now and again (though exceedingly rare), I’ve also been guilty of not saying enough. There are instances in my life when the words “I’m sorry” didn’t come as soon as they should have, or the slamming of a door has spoken more loudly than the argument that preceded it. I grew up working in a career based on words that, when communicated in just the right manner or context, inspire laughter. In the absence of words, this blog you’re reading wouldn’t exist, critics would be out of a job, and you wouldn’t spend hours obsessively playing Words With Friends on your iPhone. In fact, if we get down to brass tacks, all of our relationships, work, play, and family lives are predicated on words, aren’t they? Without them, our daily routines would be as unstructured as streets without stop signs or Kindergarten classrooms without teachers (I shudder at the thought!). Words can incite a meeting of the minds or they can be the burden we carry. But whether we are creatures of few words or of many, our lives revolve around letters that have been strung together and assigned meaning. And sometimes that’s a bizarre concept to consider.

 

You’re Speaking My Language:

Curiously, nothing has made me contemplate words and their significance more than parenting a one-year-old. Because, let’s be honest, a one-year-old can comprehend far more than he or she can actually articulate. At fourteen months, Gray has arrived at a (permanent?) phase where her mouth takes off running as soon as her eyes open in the morning. She is fluent in Toddler-ese now, a combination of babbling, wild gesticulation, and concrete word fragments. It is a language I may never completely conquer. Of course, Miss Gray is confident all of her observations should be understood and indulged, and she holds entire conversations as such. She demonstrates visible frustration when I’m slow to follow her train of thought, or –God Forbid– when I ask her to repeat herself. I sympathize. No one is fond of being misunderstood, myself included! I’m doing my absolute best to provide her with an open forum for expression, whether I can interpret it or not, though sometimes it’s tough to strike a balance. I want to help her learn the proper pronunciation and name for objects, while simultaneously encouraging and celebrating her communication. The latter is crucial to me, even when her attempt is garbled and indecipherable. I had a lisp when I was in Elementary school, so I’m keenly aware of the ways in which speaking can injure a child’s pride.  But my girl is full-speed ahead with her dialogue mastery, which is phenomenal to hear. I savor the sound of her cadence, and revel in the ebb and flow of her speech patterns. They move melodically, even when the content is unintelligible. I watch as she tests each syllable on her tongue and weighs it’s meaning. I’ve noticed that she chooses her words carefully, and each time a new one is voiced, I beam with devoted parental pride and joy… Yes, even when the word is as glamorous as “Elmo,” or “potty.”

 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words:

I’m discovering there are some scary words in my every day vocabulary now, which I’d taken for granted before. Little adjectives like “hot” and “sharp” have taken on new connotations. They represent concepts that require hands-on experience before truly resonating with children, abstract ideas that cannot always be appreciated until it’s too late. How can a child fully recognize the danger of a word they don’t yet grasp? When I was a bit older than my daughter, I got severely burned. My mom had invited a friend over for coffee and dessert, and the woman was sitting at our dining room table while my mother prepared everything in the kitchen. I was familiar with the fact that the terms “hot” and “coffee” were inextricably linked, as my parents had drilled that notion into me until they sounded like broken records. But I was being a nosy little social butterfly, and wanted to see what was on top of the table above me. As my mom set a saucer full of scalding liquid down in front of her companion, I decided to grab the tablecloth and use it to pull myself into a standing position. Her friend was not anticipating the sudden movement, and her cup of coffee came tumbling down on top of me. Needless to say, I finally understood what “hot” really meant. To this day, when I have any sort of suntan on my arms, I can still see the scars that resulted from that incident. Now, to be clear, neither my mom nor her friend did anything wrong in that scenario. No one was neglecting to watch me, nor were they engaged in some kind of hazardous activity with a baby in the room. The reality is, I pulled the coffee down on top of myself before either of them could stop me. Accidents happen. As a parent, one of my biggest fears is that something similar will occur, that my reaction time won’t always match my desire to keep my daughter out of harm’s way… And therein lies the trouble. But since I can’t do much beyond trying my best to preemptively teach Gray all of those small words with mammoth meaning, I resort to instructional colloquialisms that have become persistent fixtures in my parenting vocabulary, such as “Be careful,” and “Don’t touch that.” I’d put those slogans on a neon sign, which I’d happily mount on my forehead, if it could save my daughter from learning the hard way.

 

Oops… She Said It Again

“Uh-Oh.”  I’ve heard those words uttered so many times this month, I’ve lost count. That exclamation seems to be Gray’s latest phrase craze, and she enjoys using it whether it fits the situation or not. Who needs “please” and “thank you,” for example, when you have something as eloquent as “Uh oh?” My little girl shrugs her shoulders, raises her eyebrows in disbelief, and throws her palms up in a questioning motion as if she has no clue what has just transpired. I’ve dropped my Curious George book on the floor and trampled it? “Uh Oh.” I’ve purposely hurled my pacifier across the room? “Uh Oh.” The dog ate my Cheerios because I politely handed them over? I’ve stolen Mommy’s iPhone and somehow managed to dial a random contact in Europe, via the voice control that even Mommy doesn’t know how to initiate? You get the idea.

 

Word To Your Mother (Or From Your Mother, As The Case May Be):

A year into parenting, I’m already starting to sound like my mother. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing, but I’m slightly befuddled that it has happened so early on in my mommy adventures. I thought I could reserve that sort of commentary for some future road trip, when I’d suddenly find myself blurting out, “Don’t forget to go to the bathroom before we leave!” or “Stop kicking my seat!” But it turns out there are other classics that have begun to make an appearance as of late. I’ve even come dangerously close to asking, “Do you need a time out?” once or twice already. Heaven help me. In the past few weeks, I have heard the following commands escape my lips:

“Please don’t run in the house” ~ Emphatically stated as my daughter careens around corners, pushing her newly discovered mobility skills to the limit. I cringe as she beelines for the kitchen, knowing what comes next… splashing in the doggie water bowl. You think a Six Flags water park is wild? Try being in our kitchen when she wades in that thing.

“Food is not for throwing”~ Typically used in conjunction with ”Please don’t feed the dogs.’’  This is probably self-explanatory. Let’s just say my Jackson Pollock protégé also enjoys painting the floor with her strawberries from time to time, much to the satisfaction of our five, salivating, vacuum-impersonating pups. There’s clearly no need for the “Five-second Rule” in our house. You know how most parents have to remind their children to share more with others? Well, sometimes we have to remind ours to share a bit less :)

”No jumping on the bed” ~ Typically said at an hour I try to reserve for sleeping, and in a tone that signifies I’m rapidly approaching my proverbial last straw. This statement is often interchangeable with “Please sit down,” and “It’s definitely bedtime for Gray.”

 

“Ouch!”… And Other Four-letter Words:

Ouch                

I do my best to curb my cussing enthusiasm. I swear I do. But it is becoming more and more apparent that there’s no room for error on my part. Gray has begun repeating things, and it’s going to get me into trouble at some point soon; the writing is on the wall. I have nightmares of my sweet baby going to school and saying something that sends ME to the principal’s office. It will be one of those epic motherhood fails that I’ll laugh about when Gray is 20, but which will turn me a thousand shades of embarrassed in that moment. I’ve never been terribly good at biting my tongue, so knowing there are young ears around that hang on my every word is a serious lesson in exercising restraint. That said, my daughter seems to think “ouch” is the most blasphemous word in the dictionary at this point in her fledgling life. I stubbed my toe the other day, caught myself before casting out a flurry of profanity, and managed to mutter “ouch” instead of something worse. My daughter immediately began crying. Thinking I’d hurt her in the process, I asked where Mommy should “kiss it and make it better.” She shook her head like I’d lost my mind. A few days later, I bumped my hip into our dining room table (are you getting the feeling I’m uncoordinated?). Once again, I grunted the word “ouch” through gritted teeth; Gray promptly wailed. I was beginning to sense a theme. Sure enough, Gray cries whenever she thinks I’ve been hurt, which is incredibly endearing. Nonetheless, it isn’t fair to upset her every time I do something clumsy… Which is, apparently, quite often. Consequently, “ouch” has been filed away into the dirty word category, to be retrieved someday when my daughter’s empathetic spirit isn’t quite so sensitive.

 

 

Love Makes The Word Go ‘Round:

 Love

Of all the words in the English language, I endeavor to say these three to my daughter more than any other: “I love you.” I know some folks feel that offering that phrase “too frequently” renders it less poignant, but I just don’t think it can be said enough… especially to a child. I’m a big believer in professing it as often as possible, as long as you mean it every single time it leaves your lips. I treasure the fact that my parents have always used those words with me unconditionally and unapologetically, so I brought that way of thinking into my marriage and my parenting.  I know that, one day soon, I will hear my daughter echo my “I love you.” For now, however, I’m content knowing it’s a phrase that doesn’t need to be spoken aloud, in order for my heart to hear it.

 

I guess my point in all of this (I promise I have one!) is that words can be your poison or your antidote, especially where parenting is concerned. I try to use them wisely, but I’m not perfect. When all else fails, I strive to remember what Philip Larkin once said, “Silence, too, is eloquent.”  In honor of my lengthy ode to words this month, and since I love hearing from all of you, I thought I’d pose the following question:  What is the funniest word or statement that has ever come out of your child’s mouth? (Let’s try to remain as PC as possible here!)

 

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Emma says:

    Your blog is so lovely. My daughter is now 5 years old and she could have won prizes for some of the things she has come out with over the years, but I think my favourite will always be: ‘Mummy, I love you from my heart to my bottom’! Hopefully you can guess what she was actually trying to say! She was around 3 years old at the time. Keep up the good work.

  • Lea says:

    Reading your blog brough happy memories to mind. My youngest child is now 24 years old. Now I am a grandmother of 3 and if you think motherhood is AWESOME wait until you become a grandmother. Your blog and story about “OUCH” made me remember a story about my son. He was about 14 months old. And at rare ocassions he would say what I thought was “I care”. Each time he would say it I would pick him up and tell him what a sweet, kind boy he was and follow it up with a “I Love You” and lots of kisses.

    At the time we lived in West Point, NY. Maybe two months after he started saying “I care” there was a bad storm. Lots of heavy rains and strong winds. It was at that time that I realized he was not actually saying “I care” but rather “I scared”. I felt like the worse mother in the whole world. I was sharing the story with a friend and she said well actually you aren’t a bad mother at all. Because each time he said it you would pick him up and hug him and tell him how much you loved him. That made me feel better but not a whole lot. I guess the moral to my story is we may not always understand what our children are trying to tell us, but how we respond to those moments are always an opportunity to pick them up and smother them with kisses and hugs.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and cherish your daughter, they grow up way to fast!

    • What a beautiful story! I’m so thrilled you shared that with me. And I wholeheartedly agree with your friend… that you offered your son love and affection when he needed it most was the best gift you could have given him in a moment of being scared. It just goes to show that actions speak louder than words. Cliché, but so true! ~Jenna

  • erin brennan says:

    My son just turned two April 3rd. Since then his vocabulary has expanded!

  • Louise says:

    My four year old Evie and I were having a chat one day about being married and she proudly announced that when she is a big girl she is going to marry her daddy, totally adorable but I tried to explain to her that although her daddy loved her very much she couldn’t marry him. Her response ‘ actually it’s not your decision, it’s my decision’. Four going on 34!

July 19, 2013

My husband and I are both very avid readers. We are bookworms in the truest sense and always have been. In fact, if you want to get down to brass tacks, our marriage can even be attributed to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, Love In The Time Of Cholera.  The story goes like this: I was sitting alone at my favorite wine bar, thoroughly engrossed in the aforementioned book and a glass of Syrah, when the bartender asked if I’d ever met Brad. We were both regular patrons, so it stood to reason we might have been introduced at some point or another. I glanced over at the mildly familiar looking guy who was nursing a high-octane beer. “Never officially,” I declared. Brad and I gave each other a nod and a brief hello, before returning to our respective publications.  A few minutes later I heard him say, “Are you reading Love In The Time Of Cholera?” “I am,” I replied. He grinned and said, “That’s one hell of a book.” I must say I was vaguely stunned that he’d read it. It’s not that I was judging the book by its cover (pun intended), it’s just not something I imagine most guys would choose to read in their spare time. I was impressed, to say the least. “You’ve read it?” I asked somewhat skeptically. “Twice, “ he responded. “Once in college, when it was forced upon me, and once when I realized it deserved to be read again.” And thus began not only a three hour conversation about literature, but our relationship as well.

As a child, I practically lived at the local library. It stirred my self-expression like nothing else could. Every book was an adventure waiting to happen, a secret universe destined to be unearthed, a mystery begging to be solved. Words jumped off the page and transported me to places where dreams were limitless. That library inspired both the reader and the author in me. My parents read to me each night before bed, which prompted my infinite love of vocabulary. However, I think the roots of my bibliophilism can be traced back to childhood story hour. It was my very first “book club,” I suppose, and it was during those sessions that my imagination really took flight. Janet, the librarian, encouraged my participation and opened the door to the wonderful world of make-believe. I was rapt with attention. After those weekly assemblies, I graduated to Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries. I checked out several books a week, and I’d finished both series well before I was out of elementary school. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Niedzielski, nurtured my creative inclinations by continuing my literary initiation at school. She introduced me to the notion that books can feed the soul. From that point on, I read anything I could get my little hands on. I’ve never looked back.

Brad and I recently took our daughter on her first trip to the East Coast, where we visited my quaint Connecticut hometown. As Mrs. Niedzielski is still a very dear part of my life, Gray got to meet her for the first time. It warmed my heart like you cannot imagine. Ever the diligent proponent of reading, Mrs. Niedzielski has already contributed to our home library by gifting Gray with many of the stories we used to have in her classroom. The inscriptions she has written on the inside of each cover make me cry each time I read them. They tug on the strings of my profoundly sentimental heart. The love of books that this incredible woman instilled in me can now be passed on to the next generation of literary enthusiasts. I cannot wait for Gray to appreciate them as I do.  While visiting, we also stopped in the wonderful old library on Main Street. Thankfully, my husband is as enamored of the historic place as I am; we can easily lose ourselves for hours amongst those dusty books. Gray slept her way through the excursion, so we took our time scouring the shelves and reminiscing. It brought back a flood of wonderful memories, especially when we ran into Janet, who is now the head of the library… as she should be. We couldn’t resist an impromptu discussion about the good old days. Though they may not realize it, I owe a lot to both she and Mrs. Niedzielski. They have played integral roles in my reading and writing journey. My affinity for storytelling was cultivated and molded by their passion. This blog exists largely because of them. Moreover, the book I’ve just finished writing, The Betweeners, can be credited to their influence. I penned my adventure story for the young adult demographic, and it dawns on me that I technically wrote it for the fifteen year-old me. It was written with the idea in mind that some young girl will lose herself, or find herself, in its pages– that she’ll discover it on her own local library shelf, and it will spark her creative spirit. I hope it incites a few dreamers out there… because every author’s story begins with a book.

Happy summer reading, everyone!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

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  • Stephanie says:

    I love to read! a good book and a few minutes makes my day. I read to my daughter and hope when she gets old enough, she will love to read also. My granddad loves to read so I think he passed it down.

  • Monica says:

    Love in the time of Cholera, fantastic book…I had so much time while I was pregnant that I started reading for pleasure again (then) They were wonderful 9 months…Now I can only dream to have the energy to stay awake for a book..My little one has been going to bed waiting for daddy until 10-11PM then tossing and turning in bed for an hour more…So you can imagine who gets to sleep in every morning.